Pathfinder Adventure Path #80: Empty Graves (Mummy’s Mask 2 of 6) (PFRPG)

4.10/5 (based on 11 ratings)
Pathfinder Adventure Path #80: Empty Graves (Mummy’s Mask 2 of 6) (PFRPG)
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Chapter 2: "Empty Graves"
By Crystal Frasier

Following the opening of its necropolis, the city of Wati is overrun by hordes of the unquiet dead. The heroes must once more brave the abandoned streets and dusty tombs of Wati’s necropolis in search of the powerful artifact called the Mask of the Forgotten Pharaoh, as well as the necromancer who is using it to create the undead uprising. But mysterious masked cultists also seek the artifact so they can bring a pharaoh from the ancient past back to life. Can the heroes defeat the evil necromancer and return the deceased to their graves, or will Wati truly become a city of the dead?

This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path continues the Mummy’s Mask Adventure Path and includes:

  • "Empty Graves,” a Pathfinder adventure for 4th-level characters, by Crystal Frasier.
  • A double-sized article that peers into the gods and faiths of Ancient Osirion, by Rob McCreary.
  • A terror-filled night in a family tomb in the Pathfinder’s Journal, by Amber E. Scott.
  • Four desert-dwelling monsters, by Crystal Frasier, Thurston Hillman, and Will McCardell.

Each monthly full-color softcover Pathfinder Adventure Path volume contains an in-depth adventure scenario, stats for several new monsters, and support articles meant to give Game Masters additional material to expand their campaign. Pathfinder Adventure Path volumes use the Open Game License and work with both the Pathfinder RPG and the world’s oldest fantasy RPG.

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-589-1

Empty Graves is sanctioned for use in Pathfinder Society Organized Play. The rules for running this Adventure Path and Chronicle sheet are available as a free download (595 KB zip/PDF).

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscription.

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4.10/5 (based on 11 ratings)

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Gave Me Everything I Was Looking For

5/5

As per the title, this book of the AP did a great job of providing in a single AP volume that I was looking for in a Egyptian-flavored AP. We got tons of undead to fight, a mysterious cult on the loose, and solving massive puzzles (that are well done!). I especially appreciated the more urban setting of this book, as it brought to mind some of the fun sequences of The Mummy and The Mummy Returns.


Ghoulishly good adventure

4/5

I will start by saying I approach whats written in the AP books are a framework by which I add or subtract bits here and there and shift them around to fit the backgrounds of my player characters. I ran it for a group of 6 PCs online. As such, I'll approach this review with a pros and cons framework.

PRO:
The idea of an undead outbreak throughout the city is a very fun premise. And the encounters written for this are loose enough that you can use what you like and add more with ease. I think I ended up using most of their ideas.
Many of the encounters in the outbreak could be resolved by non-combat means.
The Adventure starts with a scene that can give the PCs a chance to go to a party and interact with a variety of NPCs.
The Necropolis is an interesting setting once the adventure moves there. This adventure allows the PCs to investigate a variety of spots in and around it.
The idea of ghoul drug dealers was brilliant!

CONS:
The final fight proved deadly and almost led to a TPK.
The use of red herrings can cause a lot of confusion among the group. Also the politics within the Church of Pharasma doesn't seem to be particularly well flushed out. I felt like I was missing something important there.

So far Mummy's Mask has been a delight.


Empty Graves

2/5

After running the exceptional book 1 this was unfortunately a bit of a let down for me. I found it too much of a sand box with a scattering of potential encounters for the GM to use. I'd have much more enjoyed something a kin to how the first book played out with a set plotline and consecutive locations.

However, following it's completion my players said they really enjoyed it because there was a lot more role-play opportunities among both the human NPC's and monster encounters that they could diplomacy or talk their way through.


Decent but ultimately unexciting

3/5

As is clear from the title of my previous review I was not impressed by The Half-Dead City. However, being a fan of Egyptian-themed adventures, I thought I would see what the rest of the AP had to offer.

Likes
1) It's a nicely laid out urban sandbox that showcases the different locales of the city of Wati in an organic way.
2) "Save the city and solve the mystery of the undead plague before it's too late" is a cool premise for an adventure (but, as mentioned below, there are potential issues related to this hook in this particular adventure path).
3) The set-up of the opening scene at the auction and the event that signals the start of the undead plague is done in a memorable and dramatic fashion
4) This adventure provides more opportunities than most for resolving conflicts in a non-violent way. I'm especially intrigued by the possibility of the PCs talking their way through the final encounter of part 1.
5) I was pleasantly surprised by the encounter of the crystal dragon in part 2. The fact that she can serve as "a sort of shopkeeper in the heart of the Necropolis" is the icing on the cake. Very creative!
6) I also liked the inclusion of the crypt thing in the final dungeon crawl, as its teleporting burst ability really adds some unpredictability to the dungeon and has the potential to spice things up quite a bit by splitting the party.

Dislikes
1) Awkward Transition: In part 1 the PCs are supposed to be tomb raiders who are more or less in it for themselves. In part 2 they are all of a sudden expected to save the city from hordes of undead. A PC whose personality and motivation works well in part 1 will not necessarily fit in well in part 2. If the PCs actions in part 1 had somehow triggered an ancient curse that unleashed the undead horde upon Wati, it would make sense that they would feel responsible for what's going on and would want to take action. As it is though, there's no justification given that works with the assumed PC motivations in part 1.

2) Challenging Issues: This adventure seems to be under the illusion that a group of six to eight CR 1/2 enemies is able to challenge a group of 4th to 7th level adventurers. Take for instance the first combat encounter which features a horde of six Zombies, all CR 1/2 (EL 4) followed 6 rounds later by another six CR 1/2 creatures (EL 4) and then 10 rounds later by a CR 5 undead creature. Now do you really think that six zombies are going to last 6 rounds and then another six CR 1/2 undead creatures are going to last another 4 rounds against a group of 4th level PCs? By the time that CR 5 creature shows up the PCs will not even have broken a sweat and may have been waiting around for a few rounds doing nothing. Things get even worse if the group features a cleric who could potentially destroy six CR 1/2 undead creatures in one standard action by channeling energy.

And that's not the end of it, consider the following three stand-alone encounters:
page 14 - eight CR 1/2 creatures
page 16 - six CR 1/2 zombies
page 19 - one CR 3 undead with four CR 1/2 undead
This is not going to challenge a group of four 4th level players.

In fact, this challenge issue seems to be present throughout the adventure:
-In part 1 of the adventure, where the characters are assumed to be level 4, not counting the Psychopomp duel which is optional (see below), I count a total of only two enemies with a CR greater than 4.
-In part 2, where the PCs are assumed to be level 5, not counting the good dragon and a neutral NPC, I count only three enemies with a CR greater than 5.
-In part 3, where the PCs are assumed to be level 6, I count only three enemies with a CR greater than 6.

3) Psychopomp Duel: One of the Events in the adventure has the PCs battling a monster for the sole benefit of convincing one NPC that it's worth giving the PCs a chance to save his miserable city. I'm not a fan of this encounter and from the perspective of the PCs, I imagine it might come across like a big waste of time and resources.

4) Red Herrings: The adventure introduces a lot of red herrings as the players attempt to find the source of the undead uprising. I think there are too many red herrings and not enough real clues to what is actually going on and that players will get frustrated feel like they are running in circles. I think a good mystery adventure needs to have the players feel like they are making progress on solving the mystery most of the time and throw in a red herring once in a while, not the other way around.

Overall Impression

Despite my concerns above, I can tell that a lot of effort went into writing this adventure and I do like it more than I did the previous adventure. Unfortunately, while there is a lot to like, at no point while I was reading Empty Graves did I feel excited enough to want to run it so I can't give it more than three stars.


Review

5/5

Empty Graves is a very exciting, very intriguing game. The characters have to defeat the rising tide of panic in the city, while unravelling the mystery of who is actually behind it at the same time. A colorful cast of characters and monsters - there is even a dragon, when we came so early across a dragon in the overall campaign we were surprised to say the least - rounds up the game and improves it further. Curiously, most of our opponents were mentioned in the Wati gazeteer in the THDC - it isn't good or bad in itself, I just wanted to mention it...


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Rob McCreary wrote:
Go for it! Straight from the mind of the writer to you!

Huzzah!

Silver Crusade Assistant Software Developer

Jim Groves wrote:
Yes! If Rob has no objection!

I still have a ton of notes from Jason Eric Nelson's Legacy of Fire volume. It's super interesting to see what got cut.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

It would be a cool resource to have all this sort of stuff online to DL for free, though I guess some might some day been re-used. Some of my favourite things are authors notes or stuff. Such as Bill Webb's original RA notes, annotated books (e.g. Hobbit, DL)


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I would love to get a JPG of the picture at the beginning of the Gods of Ancient Osirian chapter. Where can I find it?

Silver Crusade

If I run this, totally implementing that material. That Ptemineb detail is very appreciated. :)

Also, seconding the Qasim D'AWWWs.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'd like to say that after reading through the adventure I found this book to be much better than The Half Dead City.

Liberty's Edge Digital Products Assistant

Jim Groves wrote:
Cthulhudrew wrote:
Speaking of psychopomps, I really enjoyed your use of the various forms of them in this adventure. It is kind of hard, IMO, to find a way to incorporate them into adventures since they aren't generally antagonistic (which is the main way PCs will interact with them), but they fit in here very organically both in the adventure as well as- in a larger sense- the story that is going on around them in Wati.
I agree wholeheartedly. I am enjoying seeing psychopomps put to use.

I love psychopomps. I should; I created them (with a teensy bit of help from Wes Schneider), so I was really excited to get handed an adventure where the outline was basically "zombie apocalypse." Psychopomps are cool creatures, but it's hard to use them as opponents when you're the GM unless the PCs are being jerks (stealing souls or raising the undead or whatnot). For Empty Graves, I stole a few of my own notes from a planar campaign I've been planning for a few years.

Hopefully everyone has a good time with these. I love tossing in neutral monsters when I can.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

SMITE EVIL oh crap.


Crystal Frasier wrote:
Jim Groves wrote:

Woohoo!!

This is awesome Crystal.

(I'm not just an author I'm a customer and I'm running Chapter One in my home campaign right now)

BTW, I loved Chapter Two and I appreciate these behind the scenes peeks.

I think I still have that encounter somewhere on my laptop. Want me to see if I can find it?

PLEASE - I would love to see it.


Crystal Frasier wrote:
I love psychopomps. I should; I created them (with a teensy bit of help from Wes Schneider), so I was really excited to get handed an adventure where the outline was basically "zombie apocalypse."

Speaking of Zombie Apocalypses, I really enjoyed the way this one was structured, as a series of events of increasing intensity alongside more traditional encounter areas. It really gives a sense of the sort of zombie horror you'd see in movies and such (especially that first outbreak). I wish the scene at Feldgrau in Carrion Crown part 3 had been structured a little more like this module.


I love the Ammit-looking creature in the bestiary and the set pet, but I wish the Ammit-looking psychopomp was higher CR, 3 is kinda low for one of the most powerful creatures in all mythology.

I hope Ammit will make an appearance as well.

Not a huge fan of the adventure itself this time, i'm not a fan of humanoid undead, and the adventure is loaded with those, and not ones I like, but more like Wights and Ghasts which I really don't like.

Looking forward to part 3 tho!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

So hey, about that tile trap... are the "far older legends" that inspired it from a place called Hyrule by chance?

(Awesome easter egg btw)


Hey guys, what does the deities article have to say about Wadjet?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Axial wrote:
Hey guys, what does the deities article have to say about Wadjet?

She's the LG goddess of the River Sphinx and was the patron/protector of Osirion. Also goddess of good serpents and wisdom.

Domains: Good, Law, Protection, Travel, Water

Subdomains: Archon, Defense, Exploration, Purity, Rivers, Trade

Favored Weapon: light mace


Thank you. :)

Anything more specific about her ideology and teachings? And what does she look like?

Paizo Employee Senior Developer

Axial wrote:

Thank you. :)

Anything more specific about her ideology and teachings? And what does she look like?

Check out this blog post! :)


Rob McCreary wrote:
Axial wrote:

Thank you. :)

Anything more specific about her ideology and teachings? And what does she look like?

Check out this blog post! :)

Oh, I've read that post before, it was awesome.

My question is more, "What do clerics of Wadjet rant about on street corners?"


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Axial wrote:
Rob McCreary wrote:
Axial wrote:

Thank you. :)

Anything more specific about her ideology and teachings? And what does she look like?

Check out this blog post! :)

Oh, I've read that post before, it was awesome.

My question is more, "What do clerics of Wadjet rant about on street corners?"

This is all the book gives.

Spoiler:
The great River Sphinx, the heart of Osirian life in both ancient and modern times, is embodied in the snake goddess Wadjet, who is said to dwell in the papyrus marshes in the river’s delta. Wadjet is the patron and protector of Osirion, and she nourishes the kingdom as the River Sphinx sustains the land and its people. A teacher and giver of wisdom, Wadjet is the mother of the uraeuses(Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Osirion, Legacy of Pharaohs 63),the race of two-headed winged serpents who are her emissaries and spirits of caution, guidance, and protection.
Wadjet appears as a woman with the head of a cobra, with winged arms outspread in a protective pose, or as a winged cobra with a woman’s face, raised and ready to strike in defense of her land and people. A protector of kings, Wadjet supports Ra and Horus as deities of rulership, but as the guardian of all Osirion, she works with Khepri to protect the common folk as well.
Wadjet is a patron of pharaohs, and the uraeus is part of the royal regalia of Osirion. Although she has temples in many of Osirion’s major cities, countless smaller shrines to Wadjet stand along the banks of the River Sphinx. Oracles are particularly common in Wadjet’s priesthood, and the pharaohs of Osirion have long looked to them for insight and counsel.


zergtitan wrote:
Axial wrote:
Rob McCreary wrote:
Axial wrote:

Thank you. :)

Anything more specific about her ideology and teachings? And what does she look like?

Check out this blog post! :)

Oh, I've read that post before, it was awesome.

My question is more, "What do clerics of Wadjet rant about on street corners?"

This is all the book gives.

** spoiler omitted **

Thanks Zergtitan, I really appreciate it.

Here, check out this Ureaus NPC I made:

Queenseeker Falz CR 8

male Giant Half-Celestial Uraeus

LG Large outsider (native)
lnit +8; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, scent; Perception +17
DEFENSE
AC 24, touch 14, flat-footed 19 (+4 Dex, +9 natural) 

hp 80 (7d10+42)

Fort +11, Ref +9, Will +5 
DR 5/magic; Immune disease, poison; Resist acid 10, cold 10, electricity 10; SR 19
OFFENSE
Speed 20 ft., climb 20 ft., fly 50 ft. (average), swim 20 ft.

Melee 2 bites +16 (1d8+9 plus poison) 

Space 10 ft.; reach 5ft.

Special Attacks breath weapon (30-ft. line, blinded for 1 round
and must save against poison, Reflex DC 15 negates, usable every 1d4 rounds for each head), smite evil 1/day (+4 attack and AC, +7 damage)

Spell-Like Abilities (CL 7th)

3/day-Protection from evil

1/day-bless, aid, detect evil, cure serious wounds, neutralize poison, holy smite, remove disease
STATISTICS
Str 29, Dex 18, Con 22, Int 17, Wis 17, Cha 18
Base Atk +7; CMB +20; CMD 33
Feats Acrobatic, Combat Expertise, Flyby Attack, Improved
Initiative
Skills 6 Climb +23, Fly +11, Knowledge (religion) +6, Perception +17, Sense Motive +10, Stealth +10, Swim +23; Racial Modifiers +4 Acrobatics, +8 Perception
Languages Aquan, Common, Osiriani, Celestial
ECOLOGY
Environment warm rivers Organization solitary, pair, or nest (3-8) Treasure standard
SPECIAL ABILITIES
Poison (Ex) Bite or breath weapon-contact or injury; save Fort DC 15; frequency 1/round for 2 rounds; initial effect blinded and paralyzed for 1 round; secondary effect blinded for
2d4 rounds; cure 2 consecutive saves.

Paizo Employee Senior Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Axial wrote:
Rob McCreary wrote:
Axial wrote:

Thank you. :)

Anything more specific about her ideology and teachings? And what does she look like?

Check out this blog post! :)

Oh, I've read that post before, it was awesome.

My question is more, "What do clerics of Wadjet rant about on street corners?"

My answer was more to your question, "What does she look like?" :)


Sorry, I didn't know that was Wadjet.

The Exchange

Any possibility of getting just the gods article? I am playing this campaign, not running it and don't want to spoil it. I am playing a cleric of Osiris. I was hoping that there would be a way to just get the double-sized article on the gods. I can find out all the domains, subdomains, and favored weapons online, but I was hoping for descriptions and any flavor text that would be in the article. Don't really think it is worth $16 just for the one article.

Thanks

Grand Lodge

Pg. 88 - Sunbaked zombie template

The example stat block on this page for the sunbaked zombie doesn't mention what the base creature is/was. It's likely a human.

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